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Identification processes in the higher education sector : risks and countermeasures

Media Release

14 December 2005

One of the most intractable crime problems that has arisen in the twenty-first century concerns the criminal misuse of identity, Dr Toni Makkai, Director, Australian Institute of Criminology, said today on the release of Identification processes in the higher education sector : risks and countermeasures, a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

In 2001-02 it was estimated that identity fraud cost $1.1 billion in Australia alone.

This report analyses the nature of the problem in the higher education sector and how government, business and individuals can share in the task of preventing identity thieves from enrolling and graduating from higher education institutions dishonestly.

Computer technologies provide opportunities for the alteration or counterfeiting of documents used to support an individual's identity.

Student cards are sometimes accepted with only rudimentary forms of security against alteration or counterfeiting. Often only one method of proof of identity is required. Few attempts are made to validate the applicant's name, date of birth, citizenship and education record with external issuing authorities.

A false student identity card can be used in conjunction with other documents which can also be counterfeited to form part of a chain of documents used to perpetrate a wide range of financial crimes.

The paper outlines the different types of fraud that occur within the higher education sector. These include: enrolment; Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) certificates; student identity cards; student loans; examinations; essays; dishonest use of databases; qualifications; testamur; HECS debt evasion; employment applications; administration and research grants.

The paper argues that the most stringent verification procedures should be applied to prospective students on enrolment.

Prevention strategies are also required to address the use of improperly granted qualifications or misleading curriculum vitae in order to obtain academic position or promotion, and research funding.

The paper concludes that while computer technology has increased the opportunity for identity-related fraud it also provides the means to verify the authenticity of information more easily.